Opposite Sides of the Same Pain


Image
A Sunni mother silently watches:
overhead, a gathering of scavenging ravens
paints the dusky sky above
the broken bodies of her three children.
Bewilderment mixed with horror and beauty,
accented by the pebbles beneath her feet,
polished smooth by a flood of tears.
An acrid wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
confetti raining on freshly scorched earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the loss of its precious fruit.

Image

In that very moment, across the sea,
a Haitian waif reflects:
A flock of seagulls angrily position
above the ghetto garbage heap
next to a crumbling shanty
where her newborn triplets scream with hunger.
Bewilderment mixed
with horror and beauty,
the waste beneath her feet glistens
with the flood of her tears.
The stench of rotting wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
flies rising up from quaked earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the bounty of its damnable fruit.

 

Crucified Beneath Her Touch


Image

In my darkest hour, rolled up into a drunken ball upon the divan
reading Plath and Poe, fantasizing about the sweet silence of death;
writing angry verse raging against all things holy and full of light;
then, and only then, was I full of purpose and certainty.

Mindlessly pouring ice-less cups of bourbon to free my tongue,
exorcising my demons on the back of torn bank statements;
scratching out never-to-be-read poems pulled from the bottom of empty bottles.

My loving Kate stood sentinel outside the mahogany door, matronly and superior,
occasionally sneaking in a bowl of tepid broth, or a grilled cheese sandwich;
she both loathed me beyond all measure and attended to my waking needs
with a love that pierced my frozen heart and stung me to the bitter core.

Awash in the dappled grey light of morning, reeking of whiskey and fear
I stood shakily, tucking away all evidence of my madness in the roll-topped desk..
Beneath a shower of scalding water, I made attempts to wash away the night’s sins.
Stuffing my walking corpse into a crisp linen shirt, draped with a burgundy tie,
I stepped into a fresh-pressed suit (dear, Kate!) and stumbled downstairs.

With the coldness of a ghost, I kissed her lonely dry lips goodbye.

Each day, I would drive into the city, interviewing for jobs I would never accept.
Stopping by Tommy’s Irish Pub for a shot of Johnny and a 2 p.m. round of lies -
later napping on a faded green park bench outside the old courthouse.

Dinner laid out would rest un-touched as I passed straight through toward oblivion.
Kate would be at her spinning class, pedaling broken dreams through salted-tears.
Rummaging her dresser, lightly tracing my fingers over her satin underthings,
remembering when, then forgetting why.

I shed the suit and all pretense, pulled on a pair of faded jeans…and wept.

Poets and Prostitutes


Image

He was a lover of street prostitutes;
not the sable-wrapped uptown girls
bathed in Chanel No.5 and punishing Daddy
by selling their tight-toned wares retail,
but rather those wholesale working-class girls
perfumed by the sweat of their labors;
standing beneath broken streetlights at 2 a.m.,
in cheap, colorful makeup and Wal-Mart lingerie,
with asses bubbling back and semi-flaccid breasts;
those colorful painted whores of the night.

In his youth, he had been scorched by the beautiful
and he would never again have the fevered yearning
of lying with flesh more pliant and comely.

Street-walkers fed his pathos and filled his inner void.
They would let him kiss them on the mouth,
and wouldn’t complain when he couldn’t get hard
because of too much beer and whiskey.

They’d always wait patiently, filing their nails,
chewing open-mouthed wads of gum -
but most of all, they would never, ever
fill the silence with meaning-less chatter.

If he couldn’t function, they didn’t condemn him,
but would play with themselves upon request
so at least the failing of the hour felt sexy.

Most of all, they didn’t lie!

They wouldn’t tell him what a great lover he was
or offer up false platitudes on his endowment;
They used their real names and would share their coke
for an extra twenty-five, and he would pour them full shots.

Sometimes, he would write beautiful sonnets for them
and they would genuinely be moved to tears.

If the sex was lousy, they took it in stride and didn’t bitch.
They didn’t conspicuously spit into folded Kleenex
or stuff their mouths with wads of spearmint gum
after he had come, just to lose the taste of him.
Rather, they swallowed because they, too, didn’t care
if they got one more filthy, fucking disease.

They were like him; defeated and empty,
just grateful not to be judged and discarded
like yesterday’s rotten fruit.

Last Call


Image

Last night, as I lay muddled,
in my whiskey-soaked slumber,
A wraith-like mist appeared;
blue-black and musty scented
in tattered rags dipped in dust.

My burning sleep-clenched eyes
could not squeeze the scepter gone.
Her orbs, two onyx stones
set above translucent cheeks;
her mouth, a gaping maw
spewing ruby-red flames.
She floated on an icy breeze
scented with blood and bitters.

“Last call!” she hissed,

pouring me two bony fingers
of amber absolution,
judgment oozing from
her snake-coiled tongue.
I listened to the familiar tinkle
of liquefied reasoning cascading
across ice-cubed rebuttals.

Fear terrorized me,
stroking my belly with cold hands.
My gut curveting far and high
like smoke-flecked stallions
raking the coal black sky
with their steel-sparked shoes.

the earth reached up
with vise-gripped soiled fingers
grasping my naked ankles
and pulled down my saturated bones;
my drunken soul laid out and set
beneath lichen-laced granite.

Jagged stone-edged knives etched
my name and this,
the year of my drunken descent.

Lights


alone_in_the_dark
You have always stood
beneath a dazzling array of bright colors
Brilliant, and brave, and blinding
Your light provided bright reflections
and lit the stage upon which you danced
careless, joyful, and exuberant

It was a separate light that bathed me
not quite so radiant
and full of shadows
It has never illuminated my way
nor has it warmed me in its beam
It was what it seemed
an insignificant blue glow, dim and misleading

In your light, you were found
In mine, everything was lost

 

Fallen Angel


Image

He writes for a fallen angel
but the rhymes don’t appear,
not in words, but in stilted

verse, in outpourings of
watered down love. She spreads
her wings and hunts the night.

What the poet will not write is,
You hunger for your father’s love;
It never was, but may you find
through the spilling of my ink
Some noble affection upon
which to rest.

But I cannot touch your pain.

He drinks a toast
to the memory of her beauty.
No one wants her faded

charms this night. She stands
beneath a waning moon

with a single tear, a cigarette
from her too red un-kissed lips.
The cars no longer slow

down to guess her meaning.
She traces a vein
to where the needles brought

peace a million times.

I hear your poem, she whispers,
thank you
but I must be home to
where the razor whispers.

The Insidiousness of Life


Corner BAr 3

The insidiousness of life is that it constantly presses upon you;
it is unrelenting in its demands that you nurture and refine it.
It evolves, with or without your consent, so there is no rest,
no time to simply put it on cruise control enjoy the passing of time.

For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.
I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises

eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my flesh.
Where others are guided by the soft-bent wings of angels,
I am weighed down by the relentless nagging of demons;
wicked little imps who mock my waking hours and torment my sleep.

There is not a grave dug deep enough to bury my sorrows,
nor do I seek any forgiveness for my sorry state.
I will wash away the stench of my miserable existence
with endless cups of liquid absolution, and in my drunken state,

I will stumble through somehow.

Tomorrow’s sunrise may warmly embrace the multitudes;
each with their cheerful dispositions and infernal optimism.
I, on the other hand, will wither beneath the heat,
thirsting constantly for the darkness beneath a waning moon,
for it is in darkness that my soul finds its true voice.

Last Call


Image

Last night, as I lay muddled,
in my whiskey-soaked slumber,
A wraith-like mist appeared;
blue-black and musty scented
in tattered rags dipped in dust.

My burning sleep-clenched eyes
could not squeeze the scepter gone.
Her orbs, two onyx stones
set above translucent cheeks;
her mouth, a gaping maw
spewing ruby-red flames.
She floated on an icy breeze
scented with blood and bitters.

“Last call!” she hissed,

pouring me two bony fingers
of amber absolution,
judgment oozing from
her snake-coiled tongue.
I listened to the familiar tinkle
of liquefied reasoning cascading
across ice-cubed rebuttals.

Fear terrorized me,
stroking my belly with cold hands.
My gut curveting far and high
like smoke-flecked stallions
raking the black sky
with their steel-sparked shoes.

the earth reached up
with vise-gripped soiled fingers
grasping my naked ankles
and pulled down my saturated bones;
my drunken soul laid out and set
beneath lichen-laced granite.

Jagged stone-edged knives
etched my name
and this, the year of my drunken descent.

Self Reflection


“Such worthlessness has been the only truth spoken in his ear.”

Image

I am the ripe green apple,
plucked from Eden’s garden
Contemptuously bitten,
no hope for God’s pardon.

I am Achilles heel
that hobbles my stride;
Odysseus’ curse,
my insufferable pride..

That lock of hair
claiming Sampson’s life,
And the brother of Able,
I’m Cain with a knife!

I am the snakes coiled
in Medusa’s dark mane -
Like a lance to the boil,
my mercy is strained.

I’m the brew in the cauldron
of deep-forested witches -
The ugliness that comes
from Frankenstein’s stitches
.
I am alone and afraid,
but too stubborn to change;
Hopeless and lost
and most certain deranged!

I’m broken, defeated,
and reeking of sin,
The lowest of cowards,
the most evil of men.

A life, ever wasted
on cheap wine and women,
My descent into Death
is just now beginning.

This ghost will remain
as my specter of shame -
I’d rather be dead
than live more of the same ~

 

Diagnosis


Image

moments of crazy
little peeks behind the sanity curtain
screaming like a banshee
binge drink-eat-screw
before being declared unsound
living under a microscope
then come the drugs
take the pills, follow the rules, and play nice
cue the side effects
a good doctor, a good therapist, and the right meds
the holy trinity of madness
find the knots that need untying and
the pathways that need re-wiring
navigate this world in different ways
or spiral into despair
a misshapen version of a human
a different way of seeing
easily wounded, and easily elated
weird, misaligned
lacking the candle needed
to get out of the dark

 

The Following Two Poems Just Published by Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal


I am extremely honored that two of my poems, “Graveyard” and “Corner Bar” have been published in the spring edition of “From the Well House” – Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal. Please visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fromthewellhouse  I am reposting the two poems here in honor of my “Followers” who push me to keep writing with their support and encouragement.  These two poems are for you! ~ Thank you….Dennis McHale

GRAVEYARD

Image

I always found the
taste of Heaven stale,
like coffee three days old.

I prefer to spend my nights
in graveyards with ghosts,
in the company of stone angels
and cemetery cats
whispering my secrets to the dead.

The setting sun casts
dying fingers of soft orange light
through rusting iron gates,
lobbing sharp, offensive shadows
across these cold granite faces.

Above, an unkindness of ravens
caw an unspeakable truth.
Of late, I have been known
to sing with them.

My darkness is a sanctuary,
my voice a broken prayer.
My hope deeply planted
in this field of shattered bones
awaiting a resurrection
that shall never come.

Here among the sleeping dead
I have lain down many times,
and in the stillness of the night
have heard my death composed.

CORNER BAR

Image

It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same tragic scent
of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.

Here, we worshiped and blessed ourselves
at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words and hungry ashtrays
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.

We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.

This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.

Beneath These Stairs


Imagehttp://alastairsphotofiction.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/photo-fiction-sunday-june-16th-2013/

photo by Alastair

These are the back alleys
where destitute meets despair
and this is my journey.
The stairs call me from the bowels
of my misfortunes, beckoning me
onward and up…I shall not go.
At the top of these stairs
humanity stirs, and I am long
since far removed…my face
cannot bear the light, my fate
lies in the shadows of this alley.

I fell from these stairs years ago,
awash in drink and drug…I found
my refuge in this shaded vale
beneath the mortal blow,
below the pain and affliction
stirring far above.
My world is diminished,
as am I,
though the day will come when
when my tired bones ascend,
when my body fades upon these
cold stone steps.
Then, and only then,
shall my soul ascend,
Then, and only then.
shall I find my peace.

Where I Live


Image

How temperamental is the man in me
who misses you but will not call this because
I find the thought of romance more alluring
than actually opening myself to you?
I drink to burn the voices in my belly
that mock my tenuous hold on sanity.
I buy my smokes one at a time because
I have no vision of or faith in tomorrow
and I make my living scratching the underbelly of
this wretched world;
This desolate city, crumbling beneath the
broken wings of blackbirds…it is my home.
It is where I live. My pen scrapes past
its veneer of civility and sheds light upon
the ugly, the lost, the torn asunder. My people.
I take my walks at night under many clouds
all dressed in muted black.
I am callous with the hipsters and the tweakers
camped by the muddy rivers, and the hookers
and the pimps and the holy man and the
goddamned garish fluidity of this headache world.
I live in a city of fifty thousand accumulated flesh tombs
or more pretending about the news and the weather
with their minds drifting always back to the same
goddamned thing. How pathetic to be so far away
in space but not in time?
How desperate is the faith convinced by two arguments;
Both to be and not to be?
When I stumble, I lean against the wall or the lamppost
reading a page of Plath or passage of Hemingway
and all I can think is how courageous their exits were.
I yearn for their knowledge of the final crossing.
I read words, not novels, because words
are better spit than woven.
I refuse my fate gazing at my expiration date
and pouring another drink, I turn off the radio and
sit silently in the dark chambers of my thoughts.
I remember you, but me? I do not.

Irises


Irises by Vincent van Gogh

Irises by Vincent van Gogh

I watch from my folding chair,
the low autumn sun measuring out
the remains of the day.
She, genuflecting in the garden,
places four purple seedlings
into the dark damp earth,
pushing each with a jab of her fingers
and a prayer to bloom their beginning –
(those same fingers that used to softly
trace the curvature of the small of my back
when we made love)
purple irises close to the ground
She says they are insanely beautiful
and I say, “Did you know van Gogh painted
Irises from an insane asylum in Saint-Remy,
locked in the grip of unimaginable pain and suffering?”
She looks at me…looks through me,
as a small tear appears in the corner of her eye.
She knows.
She knows her garden better than she knows me,
but she knows that once these flowers root,
I am leaving her.
Turning back above these flowers,
my sweet-faced wife tilts a rusted watering can,
wanting more leaves, more flowers,
more life!  as water pours from the spout.
Five tongue-shaped petals fall ever so slowly
onto the black earth before she bends
and picks up each severed petal
and puts them oh so carefully in her pocket.

Letting Go


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Slip away my son, your night has come
As this day unwinds the sorrow
And do not fear the bells you hear
They ring a bright tomorrow

See the stars above, shining bright, my love
It reveals a path for you
Take one step to be heaven bound and free
Your spirit’s been renewed

It has been my boy, the utmost joy
To hold and love you true
If I must let go, you must surely know
How proud I am of you

Take my hand my dear, and feel me near
Let go these earthly hollows
Feel the light within as you now ascend
And know that I will follow

 

Secrets


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My shadow falls away -
no sun will touch this truth.
Wandering cold and revealed;
almost naked in my sin,
for I have squandered the best of me,
despair descends upon what’s left of me!

Secrets eat at my guts
and I am consumed completely.
Would that my lips could part
and exorcise that which I dare not speak.
I am taunted by courage beyond reach.

My body is cleaved in two:
one side dead
while the other exists in fear of living.
I am betrayed by my own hand
and I shall not sleep eternal.

The truth is an acid
eating away any hope of resurrection.
I am undone, yet left standing.
I am buried alive beneath my secrets.

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My Turn From Heaven


God Hate
My ashes are to dust betrothed,
my bones ‘neath lily and the rose.
My soul, which hath no penitence,
shall ne’er see heaven’s countenance!
While God doth cry on bended knee,
“Who brought this vile wretch to Me?”
I have no prayer to speak for me,
nor do I seek His sympathy.
I’ve cast my lot upon this heap,
come now an everlasting sleep.
As angels flee on bended wing
my unwinding was a simple thing.

Light heart though first was given me
soon beat with endless misery.
Once hopeful dreamer fast awoken,
songs unsung and words unspoken.
Continually seeking His advisement,
receiving only harsh chastisement.
As a child I prayed for his bemusement,
though my suffering lent to His amusement -
He offered love, and then he took
my loved ones from his holy book.
He filled my life with misery
and hid Himself in the Trinity.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
lashed me to their whipping post,
And each with certain celestial glee
tore the very heart from me!
And so began my slow decline
that leaves me now in full recline;
I have no faith, nor do I now,
profess in this my final hour
To seek His love and lifting grace
in this my final resting place.
In timeless repose let me rest,
a thorn insert into my breast.
For pain is something dear to me,
His lust for blood unclear to me:
Why such angst and bitter spew?
You do not know the God I knew!

 

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The Tortured Scribe


block

Delusions scatter, inspiration dwindles;
how then shall I progress?
The world revolves on a shaky spindle
and the heart barely beats in my chest.

Having given so much to this wretched life,
I fear I’ve gone insane.
I awake at night with a sudden fright
and a fever in my brain.
I reach into descending light -
a trembling hand extends;
my fingers white, with no insight,
I grip the writer’s pen.

Words drip onto a page uncurled,
a scattering of thoughts still burning -
my soul calls out, “God, let me out!”
and speaks of desperate yearning.
Like splattered pools of fallen rain
that swallow my reflection,
I’m lost again and deep within
the fog of introspection.

And still no words to rise within
my consciousness this day -
expressions of this tortured scribe
Must find another way.

 

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If Just Once More…


alone 4

A heart divided cannot beat for long
An unsung note cannot be called a song
The dancer spins a lonely pirouette
Who dances only with her silhouette

The un-prayed prayer on deaf ears fall
Despite the soul’s relentless call
This crowded world is such an empty place
When from heaven, too, angels fall from grace

The flames of love that burn so bright
Without lips to kiss becomes a dying light
The promise of love that is unreturned
Is the loneliest truth for man to learn

The sun may rise, but each day descends
Like a long, dark night that will never end
The longest path for he who walks alone
Each shuffled step toward an empty home

In winter’s grip, luscious gardens shorn
Though the wilted rose still bears its thorns
Yet all these sorrows I would dare embrace
If just once more I could see your face

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A Midnight Violation


fear

Bathed in an ethereal light
this child has no skin in the game
yet her trust holds demands
she cannot bear.

The creak of her bedroom door
snatches the sleep from her eyes
and in the darkness, horror descends;
her pillow, once soft and warm,
betrays her and once under, now over
muffles her surprise.

Beneath his weight, she dissipates
her cries muffled in the night.
Her fright smothers – she gasps for air
and he’s still there, grinding her
fragile hips into dust.

God looks on, and in His fashion
does nothing to intervene;
a celestial voyeur.

Stuffed animals bolt to the floor
one after the other, and with them
descends lost innocence; her
face laced in spittle, and she’s so little.

He rolls over, spent and condemned
as blackness descends to fill her.
Nothing is as it seems, but not a dream.
Tears wash away the vision of
this violation.

He rises as she plummets;
this child painted with the smell of
cigarettes and cheap liquor.
Morning filters through frosted panes
but she finds no warmth in the rising sun.

They’ll be no accounting for this sin
and no childhood left within this shattered
shell of a child. A darkness, deeper than sleep,
envelopes her lost innocence, and the
night’s breeze carries the cry of angels.

 

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The Visitation


rose

 

Gray shadows fall upon my face
Here within this sacred place;
The stone so cold, and roughly hewn
Beneath this waning winter moon

The air is thin and so am I
My heart is heavy, I start to cry
Each letter of her chiseled name
Is lit as though with golden flame

My fingers trace the shallow grooves
As though with touch I could disprove
She is no more, and I am less
Without her voice and soft caress

Bereft and full of memories
I rise up from on bended knee
I place a rose upon her grave
Each petal but a kiss I’ve saved

Now, slowly do I turn for home
Only now, I walk alone.

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A Godly Silence


silent-god

 

I speak to God in silent phrase
And offer up my heartfelt praise
Yet silence is His voice to me
He shows no earthly empathy

My prayers are but a silent wind
And I a storm that’s lost within
A body crushed beneath the weight
Of loss, regret, and certain fate

In slow descent, the spirit ebbs
Dead within this mortal dread
Yet silent still His saving grace
A void I feel within this place

No comfort shall I know this day
My God has simply slipped away
And in his place a dark despair
Hot ashes flowing everywhere

The pain increases even still
All that’s left is my free will
And so, I chose another path
Turning from His vengeful wrath

His Son was slowly crucified
So He might feel more sanctified
Though in the hour of my need
His sacrifice is lost on me.

 

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Smoke and Fire


smoke and fire

 

Smoke and fire, my heart’s desire
Stoke the flames a little higher
Dancing in the flickering flame
I find my mind’s gone quite insane

Burning with a fevered pitch
All my thoughts are loosely stitched
Visions scatter like floating embers
Incensed moments I remember

A life consumed by selfish lust
Now reduced to smoldering dust
No regret to stave the heat
My soul’s destruction now complete

My faith is set to flaming torch
Beliefs once held are darkly scorched
Yes, fan the flames, incense the fire
Let this be my funeral pyre

Full of failure, drinks of Gaul
Life has been a tortured haul
Let my bones cremate most slowly
Scatter my flesh, let strong winds blow me

To another time, another life
Full of promise, less in strife
May I rise one day again
More in grace, less in sin

 

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Death’s Warm Embrace


deaths-embrace

 

My dreams are fermented delusions
A kaleidoscope of meandering falls
Through time and space, while the
Screams of my infliction penetrate
And annihilate my grip on reality.

My waking hours, of which few remain,
Adds another layer of darkness to an
Already bleak existence, while the light
Of relentless self-reflection blinds me to
Any hope of reprieve or absolution.

I stand with one foot in the grave
And the other hobbled by uncertainty.
I do not fear this final step into the abyss
So much as I dread the act of departure;
The inglorious gasp of a final breath
Inhaling the petrichor of a wasted life.

A silent scream rattles from my gut
Cursing the sun of a new day rising.
I cannot bear another savage stroke
From a Sun that fails to warm me.
Let the final night descend and into
Death’s warm embrace enfold my soul.

 

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The Night She Called


alone-in-bed1

 

I was so drunk
the night she called
I thought the phone ringing
was a song in my brain -
I hummed along
and laughed that empty laugh
that is found at the bottom
of well drunk bottles.

Later, she came to the door
and knocked, knocked, knocked
while I stared
at the crack spreading
up the wall,
reminding me of her varicose veins.
I tapped my foot in time.

I will most certainly die
on this side of the door one night,
and all the ringing and knocking
won’t bring me back to life.

 

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Half-Measures


razor cuts

I watch in morbid fascination
the quickening pulse of the vein
on the soft underside of my forearm;
each throbbing beat a silent protest
for the living of life, the loss of love,
the failure of faith in the future.

Warm blood trickles
slowly down my naked wrist
and into my loosely cupped open palm;
rivulets of life’s sweet essence
spreading out like the night-seeking
roots of a moon-flower plant.

I am amused that the heart beats unaware
of its complicity in this life-ending act,
this betrayal of self-contempt
and abject surrender.
Blood meanders across the slightly raised
scars from last year’s failed attempt,
and in that moment, I finally realize
what my father meant about the
importance of half-measures,
of keeping commitments.

So, I cut a little deeper.

Before…


calm-before-storm-1

Before the ashes, Vulcan’s vengeful fire.
Before the sex, a deep and burning desire
Before the storm, a dark and restless quiet;
Before the morning, a deep and somber night.

Before the hunt, the frightened fleeing fox,
Before the race, coiled tightly in starter’s blocks.
Before the cut, such soft unblemished skin;
Before the blade, sparks fly, the whetstone spins.

Before new love, the queasy, nauseous start;
Before the kiss, a young and hopeful heart.
Before rejection, all things possible, bright, and new;
Before enlightenment, faith in what we say and do.

Before Sun’s rays, dark clouds enshroud the planet
Before the sculptor, Creation locked in blocks of granite.
Before the fall, transcendence true and boldly rising;
Before the gasp, in silent awe, a sweet surprising.

Before the rose arises first the lowly bloom -
Before the family, a dark and empty room.
Before old age comes the child full of life!
Before victory, the pain of loss and bitter strife.

Before the Universe, a bright and solitary star
Before the nearness, a cold and distant far
Before the night, a day of brilliant cerulean blue
Before the “Us,” a prayer for joining “Me” to “You”

We Are the Reason


reason

There is a reason birds don’t fly here anymore.
The skies are filled with fear and lamenting,
and their wings are covered in blood and ash
– bones falling from the sky.

The deer no longer nurses her fawn
in the de-forested wood, and the fish flounder
and die in dry riverbeds
.
The gardens are choked with a villainous vine,
while the petals of every flower fall
one by one to the rotting ground.

The mountains no longer echo with the songs of valley life,
and the oceans lie still, lifeless beneath the moon.
The dimming stars no longer ignite the imagination,
and the sunrise is muted behind a veil of smog and filth.

There is a reason our lifeless children
have abandoned hope in their futures
and restricted their “friends” to Facebook.

There is a reason our churches stand empty,
except to mourn our dead and send them on their way.

There is a reason we scream instead of sing; why
we sleep alone and lock ourselves behind bolted
doors; why we embrace our guns instead of our neighbor.

Our cities crumble beneath the weight of hatred and
indifference, while greed feeds upon the impoverished.

We have deigned to wear the robes of God and we have
failed. We turn from one another in vile contempt for we
cannot bear the reflection of ourselves in their wounded
eyes.

We have consumed it all, and in the process, we
have consumed ourselves.

We are the reason.

 

Writer’s Block


block

 

Half smoked cigarettes fill the vapid air
the poet hunches over in total disrepair
His dalliance with the muse is such a sad affair
When words won’t come, he slouches in despair
The night mist lingers though he doesn’t’ really care
Surrounded by empty bottles, his vision is impaired
The empty page taunts him, “Fill me if you dare!”
He reaches even deeper, but there’s really nothing there
Another evening of this is more than he can bear
In absolute surrender, his pen flies through the air

 

Defeated


defeated (1)

Like most people, I am caught in the web of learning  to navigate the constantly changing twists and turns of today’s fluctuating societal ups and downs.  It seems every day someone achieves their dreams while another is blown to bits by a terrorist’s bomb.  I celebrate a birthday with friends at the same time a mother buries her child.  This insidious balance of good and evil renders me near catatonic with a mixture of soaring joy and abysmal despair.  It just doesn’t make sense, and I am completely lost in a world I no longer understand.

The shooting at Sandy Hook and the resulting flood of grief as Death descended on this sleepy community left me in tears and shaking with sorrow.  No sooner had the bodies of these innocent children been pulled from their classrooms then I found myself out shopping for Christmas gifts in anticipation of a joyful family reunion. I watched the mix of loved ones waiting at the finish of the Boston Marathon, full of love and pride as their champions crossed the finish line, suddenly blended with the explosions of hate that laid low the lives of three people, one, a child who now joins the bitter fruit withering on the vine of life, not yet fully blossomed.  I have found that I am incapable of processing this confusing blend of despair and bliss.  My psyche is not wired to route the neurons of my emotions bouncing back and forth within my soul so randomly, and my mental landscape is muddled beyond words.

I am left feeling that I have personally failed in my journey upon this earth, this blue-green marble that spins wildly on a shaky spindle.  I don’t know how to proceed. No sooner than I fall on my knees in prayer that word comes of another senseless act of violence.  Is this how God answers desperate prayers for comfort and understanding?  Am I a fool to think that a simple act of Divine intervention might be suggested amongst all this violent loss of life?  So I stop praying.  God must be a sadistic voyeur for the silence of His absence in all of this is deafening.

My life does not slow down, however, to properly mourn, for no sooner than my heart is laid low by the killing of a dozen Syrian children, then the phone rings and I’m invited to a party celebrating the engagement of my best friend.  What cruel and atrocious mocking of life this all turns out to be.  Where do I find understanding amidst the laughter and the tears?  How do I proceed with any semblance of balance?  I retreat into the only sanctuary where I find an ounce of control: my writing.  But as the words pour out upon the page, my sadness and confusion only becomes more evident.  I start to write of hope and love, and in moments my words become dark and sullen.  I am the world I live in. And like that world, I am confounded  in both mind and body.  My pen stops and weeps uncontrollably.  My writing is exhausted and no longer makes sense.

I am caught in a bubble devoid of clarity, floating mindlessly through each demanding day. I cry out,  “Please, someone, pop the bubble!”;  explain this senseless woven tapestry of life so that I can chart my course, so that I can find meaning in this tower of babel.  To God and His perfect plan I say “Fuck You” – this pain is no longer bearable.  I cannot trust the joys I know when lurking behind the next corner is just another tragedy waiting to crush my spirit once more.  I need to get off this see-saw and find shelter.

I can no longer play His celestial game of ping-pong.  I will not!